Before you launch: the Argo checklist

Note: This article has been reposted from the Argo blog. Read the original article.
  1. Nail down your Argo site branding. We can give you legal and aesthetic advice, but the final choice is yours. Choose wisely!
  2. Finalize your tagline. Be as economical and clear as possible about your site's reason for being.
  3. Figure out the station site navigation that should appear at the very top of your Argo site. Choose four or five main links in conjunction with your station site editor, but don't labor over this, you can always configure it later. You can watch this screencast for instructions on how to add these to your Argo site.
  4. Determine the top four or five categories that compose primary navigation for the Argo site. Consider correlating these categories to your distinct primary audiences or audience needs. Watch this screencast for instructions on adding these to your Argo site. See also: Developing categories.
  5. Subscribe to lots of feeds about your beat in Google Reader. Set your filter low. Pull in everything you consider pertinent to your topic. You may end up pulling a few hundred feeds into your account, and that's OK. Organize the best of these into folders sorted by priority, and consider organizing them by topic as well. See also: How we chose the topics – the market assessment.
  6. Get to know the online communities that are already established around your beat. Become a regular presence in the main haunts around your topic. Respond to threads, engage with people on Twitter.
  7. List at least 30 – but not too many more than 100 – specific topics you intend to cover regularly. Focus especially on people and organizations, although you can include other easily-defined subjects. For at least 20-30 of these, come up with a representative image and a quick overview paragraph explaining the topic. See also: How to choose your taxonomy terms.
  8. Start a Twitter account for the site, and begin cultivating a community there. If you want to use your personal Twitter account, feel free. But it's probably worth registering the site name on Twitter anyway. Aim to cultivate at least a few hundred followers by the time your site is live, and make sure your Twitter stream is a valuable read for you. See also: Five tips on getting started with Twitter.
  9. Set up a Delicious account, and begin bookmarking the best content you come across on your beat. Once your topics have been set up within your Argo site instance, then start tagging the stories you find with keywords that match the list of topics you've created.
  10. Create a Facebook page for the site. And reserve the appropriate Facebook shortcut.
  11. Upload your Gravatar. Go to and upload a photo of yourself, connected to the email address you're using on the site.
  12. Create a Flickr account for the site. This may just be a placeholder, but it's also good to store your best photos there (or even all of them).
  13. Conduct a photowalk for your beat. Try to capture images of things you'll be posting about frequently.
  14. Figure out who the best Creative Commons photographers are for your beat. Reach out to them, let them know you'll be writing about the topic, and ask how they like to be credited if you use their images.
  15. Developing a marketing plan for the launch. Whether or not you have a marketing budget, you still need a marketing plan. When will you formally roll out the red carpet for the public? How will the station site point to the Argo site? What on-air promos will air in conjunction with the launch? How will you communicate the launch to local media?
  16. Start developing strong content to make a splash at launch. Report and write four or five viral-worthy, enterprise posts that you can publish – and do dogged follow-up posting about – in the days after you go public.
  17. Start posting daily updates before the site goes live. Save your best insights and enterprise work for the launch, but begin populating the site with updates on relevant news that's transpiring daily. These posts will flow to topic pages and make your site feel somewhat robust at launch, and you'll start to get a feel for the system.